THE BLOG
01/31/2017 05:33 pm ET Updated Jan 31, 2018

Trump Is Just The Wake-up Call Environmental Groups Needed

Donald Trump's presidential election is causing the mainstream environmental groups to see a new shade of green.

While Greenpeace's ecowarriors were drawing media attention by hanging a giant "Resist" banner near the White House, the Sierra Club was sending out a new batch of urgent fund-raising pleas: "Fight back every day for the next four years. Make a monthly donation to the Sierra Club this second."

Yea, I'd love to help pay Sierra Club's salaries for the next four years, but where were they the last eight years as the Obama White House reneged on one environmental campaign promise after another?

Offering stewardship to the Earth's ecosystem is a full-time job, not a weekend gig where you come out of hibernation and cherry-pick your battles when there is a convenient boogeyman to rail against.

After continuously being hoodwinked into believing President Obama was actually their friend, President Trump is giving environmental groups a stark wake-up call that most of what the Obama White House did to protect the environment were either temporary and easily reversed, or so full of legal loopholes they were meaningless.

After all, Obama was a lawyer and knew how to say one thing, and mean another.

Democrats, and other weekend liberals who flash environmental issues like a fashion accessory, didn't notice or didn't care: it just sounded good.

This caused the Big Green groups to take Obama's actions at face value and become complacently happy to celebrate their short-lived "victories."

So the current Trump hysteria by environmental groups over pipelines, the EPA and climate change seems a bit hypocritical.

What environmentalists missed was that the Keystone (roughly 40% complete) and Dakota (about 85% complete) pipelines were never dead, Obama simply kicked the can down the road by slickly putting them on hold.

Where was Big Green before the first shovel of dirt was turned on these projects -- a clear signal that they were done deals?

There is understandable outrage over Trump purging any reference to climate change from the White House website.

But what was ignored was the fact that during his first four-year term as president, Obama would not utter the term "climate change" and delayed key environmental regulations until after the 2012 election for fear it would jeopardize his re-election campaign.

Trump has hinted at downsizing the EPA and changing the way the agency does science research.

But where was the outrage when the Obama White House was caught editing EPA environmental reports to more reflect their political needs.

Trump also wants to push the awful idea of opening public lands to energy development.

Nothing new here either since Obama's Interior Department, which over-sees public lands, was run by a former oil industry fracking proponent.

In fact, the Obama Administration encouraged both fracking and oil shale development while environmental groups kept silent.

Despite the continued after-effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in April 2010, Obama managed to opened even more off-shore drilling tracts between 2010 and 2014.

And the "victory" Big Green touted with Obama's last-minute "ban" on oil drilling in the Arctic was laughable since the major oil firms had either pulled out or cancelled plans to exploit the region some 24 months prior to the announced ban.

But it sounded good.

And no, Trump is not putting us on a path to nuclear war: Obama did that last year when he put in motion spending $1 trillion to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

So why the hysteria now when Trump is openly talking about what Obama was actually covertly moving forward with all along?

The reason is simple: For the Big Green environmental groups -- and a slew of other non-profit organizations selling doomsday scenarios, Trump is making fund-raising great again.

My e-mail inbox has been inundated with frantic calls for donations since before Donald Trump was even inaugurated -- including a string of emails "counting down" the hours before the world was seemingly coming to an end on January 20.

One January 20 non-profit "opposition" email noted "we're so close to our fundraising goal that we can probably reach $250,000 right before the new presidency begins at noon today."

With every new Trump tweet or press statement comes another flurry of pleas to make an "emergency donation" now to "fight back."

No coffee mugs or tote-bags, just send money.

If the Big Green groups had done their job during the last eight years rather giving Obama a love-fest pass, they wouldn't be scrambling now to save the world.

Of course it is easier to tap gullible donors for more money when these non-profits are selling an "urgent need," rather than a success story.

Instead of cashing-in on the short-term fund-raising windfall that lambasting Trump's proposed actions offer in order to pad their group's "administrative costs," maybe the status-quo environmental groups that were so cozy with Obama's surreptitious actions should focus on helping collaboratively guide the new administration's emerging environmental and energy development strategies before anything is set in stone.

Donald Trump is the President of the United States and pretending otherwise will accomplish nothing.

And demonstrations on the Capital Mall by protesters more interested in taking selfies than expressing a unified message isn't going to get it done either.

Instead of expressing how "terrifying" it is that Trump "will ravage the environment," how about something more constructive.

Where's the celebration of Trump pulling out of Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership? This was a major win for the over 1,500 organizations which opposed TPP, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.

Keep in mind that Trump is a business man who negotiates deals, not a politician. Unlike former-President Obama's blind obligation to toe the Wall Street-Democratic Party line so not to draw any political fallout, President Trump is not worried about his "political career" and has already shown the ability to shift his stance on some issues.

Now is the time to talk to President Trump in his language and offer up the studies of how sustainability is good for business and that over 700 corporations have pledged support for climate change action through a low-carbon economy.

It should be emphasized to the White House that under Rick Perry - Trump's Energy Department nominee, Texas has become the leader in wind energy production and that Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback recently posted an audio recording on the governor's official webpage in which he says: "God has truly blessed Kansas with tremendous natural resources, including the wind. Thanks to wind energy Kansas will continue to grow and thrive."

Stress to the White House that renewable energy development creates American jobs that can't be shipped overseas.

Trump could also use a gentle reminder that it was Republicans that actually championed the conservation movement in the first place, dating back to Abraham Lincoln setting aside Yosemite Valley as a park in 1864 and Ulysses S. Grant approving Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872.

Advise President Trump that even avid hunter Theodore Roosevelt supported national parks; that most of the members of the Sierra Club were wealthy Republicans for decades during the first part of the 1900's; and that the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act were signed into law by a Republican. And today, young conservatives are showing support for clean energy.

Trump is proposing things that are way over the top because, after all, that is the art of the deal. But Trump himself gave a hint: "I never get too attached to one deal or one approach."

So now is the time to articulate how to balance Trump's economic goals with the goals - and science - of clean water, clean air and clean energy in terms that are accessible to a new administration still settling in.

It's a strategy that will require much more work from environmental groups than simply staging weekend media-friendly protests or creating new fund-raising gimmicks.

But what do they have to lose?